Adam Sholes and Sean Walsh
Adam Sholes and Sean Walsh

Adam Sholes of DeSoto, Mo., is dedicated to his marathon training—3:30 a.m. dedicated. The 30-year-old father of three has trouble finding time to train that doesn’t interfere with his work and family.

“That’s the toughest part, trying to balance training time with life and three kids who are also very active,” Adam says. “It’s come down to walking up at 3:30 a.m. and getting in my training before work, which has opened up my afternoons for my kids, to help with homework, sports and dinner.

Adam and his veteran partner, Sean Walsh, are part of the Saucony 26 Strong project, a collaboration between Competitor and Saucony that pairs experienced marathon vets with first-timers (“cadets”) as they both train to achieve their marathon goals. Adam is training for the Des Moines Marathon on October 20, and so far, despite the early wake-up calls, training is going well.

“I’m finding out there is a lot to learn about nutrition and trying to fine tune what exactly my body needs,” he says. “Training with a heart rate monitor has helped tremendously. It has slowed me down and all the aches and pains I had, went away.”

Last month, Sean paced Adam to a new PR at the Unstoppable 5K. He’ll be running the BAJA Half Marathon on September 29 in preparation for his big race in Des Moines a month later. “That will be my official race by heart rate race,” Adam says. “It will be a learning experience to help me get ready for the full-distance.”

In addition to the heart-rate training, Adam has been experimenting with his nutrition during long runs. He developed a tentative plan for the race. “I will be having 4 ounces of Gatorade every mile, and a Roctane GU every 4th mile chased with water,” he says. “I’ve also found that the more I run the more mental strength I gain. I found that out when I had a 14 mile solo run and never once had the thought of pulling out early.”

Sean, who’s hoping to break 3:20 in his goal race (Twin Cities) this fall, agrees with Adam that mental strength is a big part of training for a marathon.

“I have been running now for 5 years,” he says. “I think my last frontier in terms of getting faster is the mental frontier. I have to train my mind that my body can handle going faster for the 26.2 miles of the marathon—especially the last 10K.”

For both runners, the St. Louis area heat has also brought issues the last few weeks.

“I hate the heat,” Sean says. “We got a nice three-week break from the heat in late July and early August. However it came back with a vengeance this week. Saturday’s run was very tough, especially the last 5 miles or so.”

But thankfully, both have stayed injury free and on target for their goals.

“Knock on wood,” Sean says.

To read more about Adam, Sean and the rest of the Saucony 26 Team, visit